Pakistan bid to ease Tour fears

PAKISTAN’S cricket manager Bob Woolmer has attempted to dampen growing tensions by claiming his side are keen to play in the forthcoming one-day series against England.

The series, which begins with a Twenty20 international in Bristol on Monday and is followed by five one-day internationals, is thought to be in danger, with Pakistan angry at the ball-tampering allegations during the forfeited final Test.

As well as that, the planned one-day game against Middlesex tomorrow has been put in doubt ahead of the disciplinary hearing.

But with militancy increasing inside the Pakistan camp, particularly with captain Inzamam-ul-Haq facing a lengthy ban if found guilty of two charges of breaching the code of conduct in Friday’s disciplinary meeting, coach Woolmer has attempted to diffuse the growing conflict.

Having claimed only last night that the one-day series would be in jeopardy if Inzamam was given a lengthy ban at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting, Woolmer has now softened his stance.

“We want to play. We need the one-day series to prepare for the World Cup,” said former England batsman Woolmer. “We need to get rid of this polarisation and we want to bring the two parties (Pakistan and the ICC) together again.

“We are all trying to get our heads around what has happened but we are keen to play the one-day internationals and play cricket — that is what we are here for.”

Woolmer also expressed his hope the ICC would handle Inzamam’s disciplinary hearing in the right manner and not let the controversy surrounding the incident cloud their judgement.

“I am confident with the ICC,” he said. “In these situations it tests us all, there is no handbook as to how to handle situations.”

In the meantime, the Pakistan Cricket Board have appointed specialist lawyers DLA Piper to represent captain Inzamam-ul-Haq when he faces charges at an ICC disciplinary hearing on Friday.

Inzamam faces two charges of breaching the code of conduct after his side refused to return to the field in protest at ball-tampering allegations from on-field umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove in the final Test at The Oval on Sunday.

Shahriyar Khan, the chairman of the PCB, said: “We are determined to defend these charges vigorously and we wanted to make sure that we have the best possible representation.”

Inzamam’s case will be put by, among others, Mark Gay, head of DLA Piper’s sports group. He has previously worked for the England and Wales Cricket Board when they had issues about the team travelling to Zimbabwe during the World Cup four years ago.

Gay has also worked with the FA Premier League on the sale of television rights and the Ashley Cole tapping-up case. “We are delighted to be representing Inzamam against these allegations and we are confident justice will prevail,” he said.

In the meantime, evidence of the increasing tensions within the Pakistan camp was underlined by Inzamam’s revelation he would like the result of the final Test quashed.

Just days after a joint statement from the ICC, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board agreed to forfeit the match and award it to England, Inzamam has suggested a rethink.

“Pakistan was in a winning position but England was declared winner, so our disappointment is very natural. Now our effort is to change the result of the match. Pakistan will request the ICC that instead of awarding it to England it should be declared a no-result match.”

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